This morning I spent some time working on a new series of messages that I am going to be preaching on Sunday nights beginning in March through the book of Jude so I thought that for today’s post I would share some tips about how to prepare yourself to preach through a book of the Bible. Here are a few tips about how to get started:
1. Choose the book you will want to preach through– I try to alternate between preaching through Old and New Testament books. Since I am getting ready to wrap up a series through Genesis, I wanted to preach from the New Testament. As I prayed about it and read through the New Testament, I felt lead to preach through Jude. In this instance, I felt a strong leading towards Jude, but in the past there have been various reasons why I choose a certain book to preach. Sometimes the book covered an issue that related to something going on in the church or culture that I felt needed to be addressed. A few times, I have simply chosen a book with little rhyme or reason why. Some may be uncomfortable with that but honestly God has never failed to meet me in the study of His Word. All of the books are inspired and all of them are profitable, so just pick one and get started.
2. Read the book multiple times– Right now I am preparing to preach through Jude which is very short, therefore, I have been able to read through it everyday for the last two weeks. With a longer book you will need to give yourself more lead time, but basically the goal is to read through the book multiple times in order to get familar with it and to let God begin to shape the messages in your heart.
3. Do Background Research– This is the grunt work that needs to be done in order to properly understand and interpret the book. 90% of what you learn in this process will not make it into the actual messages but you must do the work in order to understand the book. Remember this simple adage, “The text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean in its original context.” As preachers of the gospel it is our job to bridge the gap between the time when the text was originally written until now. Right now I am deep in this process as I begin to prepare the messages from Jude. All of this week I am immersing myself in the background information about Jude, trying to understand the original context as best I can. That means getting out the commentaries, introductions, and Biblical encyclopedias and doing some good research.
4. Find the connecting theme for the book and sermon series– For a book like Jude this is rather simple because in v.3 the author states, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” The writer comes right out and tells us what the book is going to be about. In other cases, this process is a little more difficult and you will have to do a good bit of research to discover the theme. But you should not start preaching the series until you have the overall theme of the book clearly in your mind. This will serve as the hook or anchor for the entire series.
5. Find how the books presents the Gospel– Every book of the Bible has something to say about and contribute to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we want to have gospel centered preaching we need to carefully look for how the book relates to the gospel. You are not ready to preach the book until you can clearly see how it relates to the gospel.
4. Put together and outline of the book and series- As much as I possibly can I want to let the shape of the Biblical text determine the shape of the sermons series. In other words, I want to follow the natural outline of the Biblical text in determining how the sermon series is going to unfold. Sometimes this process is fairly easy and straightforward but at other times it can be very challenging. I usually have to spend the better part of a week determining the outline for the book and series. Consulting outlines in commentaries and Biblical dictionaries /encyclopedias can be helpful.
5. Write the individual messages– I know some guys who do this far in advance and I have tried this on several occasions but most of the time I am writing the individual messages on the week that I am preaching the text. I will give you more about this on next Friday. But for now I would love to hear about how you are go about preparing to preach a series. Share some of your methods in the comments sections.